In an 1818 collection of his writings, the French liberal theorist,Benjamin Constant, arguedagainst the recently introduced idea of "property which has been called intellectual."
can be found used in an October 1845 Massachusetts Circuit Court ruling inthe patent case
Davoll et al. v. Brown.
, in which Justice Charles L. Woodbury wrote that "only inthis way can we protect intellectual property, the labors of the mind, productions and interestsare as much a man's own...as the wheat he cultivates, or the flocks he rears." (
1 Woodb. & M. 53,3 West.L.J. 151, 7 F.Cas. 197,
o. 3662, 2 Robb.Pat.Cas. 303, Merw.Pat.Inv. 414
). Thestatement that "discoveries are...property" goes back earlier. Section 1 of the French law of 1791stated, "All new discoveries are the property of the author; to assure the inventor the propertyand temporary enjoyment of his discovery, there shall be delivered to him a patent for five, ten or fifteen years."
In Europe,Frenchauthor A. Nion mentioned
Droits civils des auteurs, artistes et inventeurs
, published in 1846.The concept's origins can potentially be traced back further.Jewish lawincludes severalconsiderations whose effects are similar to those of modern intellectual property laws, though thenotion of intellectual creations as property does not seem to exist ± notably the principle of Hasagat Ge'vul (unfair encroachment) was used to justify limited-term publisher (but not author)copyright in the 16th century.
TheTalmudcontains the prohibitions against certain mentalcrimes (further elaborated in theShulchan Aruch), notablyGeneivat da'at( , literally
"mind theft"), which some have interpreted
as prohibiting theft of ideas, though the doctrine is principally concerned withfraudanddeception, not property.
These exclusive rights allow owners of intellectual property to benefit from the property theyhave created, providing a financial incentive for the creation of and investment in intellectual property, and, in case of patents, pay associatedresearch and developmentcosts.
Somecommentators, such asDavid LevineandMichele Boldrin, dispute this justification.
The existence of IP laws is credited with significant contributions toward economic growth.
Economists estimate that two-thirds of the value of large businesses in the U.S. can betraced to intangible assets.
"IP-intensive industries" are estimated to generate 72 percent morevalue added(price minus material cost) per employee than "non-IP-intensiveindustries".
A joint research project of theWIPOand theUnited Nations Universitymeasuring the impact of
IP systems on six Asian countries found "a positive correlation between the strengthening of theIP system and subsequent economic growth."
Other models, such as the Nash equilibrium,would not expect that this correlation necessarily means causation: The Nash equilibrium model predicts that patent holders will prefer to operate in countries with stronger IP laws.
In some of the cases, as was shown for Taiwan
after the 1986 reform, the economic